Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Grief in the Happy World

The cult of positive thinking is such a dangerous thing for the grieving. Certainly this cult has become ubiquitous to our times. People did not once think they had some kind of social duty to pretend or even choose happy things and happy outcomes and happy feelings. Life simply was what it was. In fact, that whole concept is easily summed up as a luxury given to boomers. But it doesn't work. It's a bandaid.

The boomers are now facing aging and death. This is the utter insult to positive thinking. An utter insult to a group of people that did not think they would ever be in that situation. An utter insult to a group of people who had it all.

They don't take death well.

Faced with death, death of anyone close or their own demise, without a compass they gravitate desperately to their new religion, positive thinking, as a way to cope. They are left dangling on the happy hook over an abyss.

"I'd rather think happy thoughts than be miserable," screech the boomers. They buy books on how to deal with death in a positive way. They get into relationships the instant their spouse dies because they can rationalize pretty much any behaviour by positive thinking. They tell themselves that their spouse would have wanted them to be happy. All sorts of deluded boomers around them tell them this too because they pretty much have no clue but it is a nice positive thing to say. And frankly, the people around them are pretty tired or worried about seeing their grief-stricken friend or family member unhappy.

Of course they want you happy. The constant moaning and sadness is getting worrisome if not tedious. The grief-stricken are rejecting the religion of positive thinking. So abandoned by and increasingly uncomfortable around the happy people, they desperately search for a new relationship or a new town where they find themselves hopelessly guilty for not being happy. They then spend their time pretending to be happy because that is what is expected. In this cult, unhappiness is not acceptable.

Since when was happiness the goal in life?

When someone close to you dies, your world is splintered into a thousand pieces and you are left sitting in a pile of bits and pieces desperately if not despondently trying to reconstruct it. The option to get up and walk away from it is not possible. Not physically or psychologically or spiritually. The truth is, you have to start picking up those pieces and putting it together again. Adding this bit and that bit. Discarding some. Bringing in new bits. And that takes time, patience and a reality-based perspective. And hope. Not positive thinking. But hope.

The goal in life is not happiness. It is peace. And that takes a long haul and no one else can do it for you. The worst thing you can do is leap into a relationship bringing all your needs and frustration and unresolved grief into it. "Oh, but I'm happy," say they.

No. You're not. You're just delaying an inevitable reckoning and bringing other people in harms way. Or being taken advantage of by predators who want your money, your house, your lifestyle or your undying gratitude. Or else you are handing over the responsibility of emotional work to someone else. Is that fair? Take time. You have all the time there is left. Live with the unhappiness. It won't kill you. It is necessary.

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